1. Key West
Key West is the southernmost point of the United States. To reach it from Miami you must cross the small islands known as the Florida Keys via more than 40 bridges, some of which are more than 10 km long. It is small, calm, and certainly not as lively as Miami. But be warned, it is actually quite far from the city (265 km). In fact, Key West is actually closer to Cuba, which is only 140 km away. However, the deep blue waters around the Keys offer such great views that it is definitely worth visiting for the journey alone. Before reaching Key West you can visit other islands (such as Islamorada) for a bite to eat and something to quench your thirst in the colorful wooden huts.
At Key West, in the streets of which you will see roosters and chickens being followed by their chicks, you can visit the house of Ernest Hemingway, which is now a museum. There are tours of the house, which is now home to close to 60 cats, at specified times. You can also go up the Key West Lighthouse to experience an incredible view, top up your tan on one of the beaches, swim in the ocean, take photos with the colored buoy which marks the Southernmost Point and bears the text: “90 Miles to Cuba,” and have fun on Duval Street at night. If you have time, and are a bit more daring, you can make a parachute jump or join snorkeling tours. It is said that the corals are quite astounding.
2. Bayside Marketplace
From the marina, you can join boat tours and see the city center, coast, and Biscayne Bay from afar. In this area you can also take a walk in Biscayne Park, go shopping, grab something to eat at Bubba Gump (inspired by the movie “Forrest Gump”), the Hard Rock Cafe, or Hooters, or sip cocktails to the sounds of Latin music in the evening. The American Airlines Arena, the home of the Miami Heat NBA team, is very close by. If you are lucky enough you may get to watch the team play live. It is advisable to check the events taking place before coming to Miami as even if there are no basketball games at the arena, you may catch a concert by an artist such as Adele, Ellie Goulding, Foo Fighters, Madonna, or Pearl Jam, or other types of entertainment events.
3. Little Havana
Downtown Miami and Little Havana in particular are well worth a visit. The district, known as “La Pequeña Habana”, is home to many Cuban immigrants. You can take a walk around the churches and parks (you can play dominoes in Maximo Gomez Park), hang out at the cafes and bars at Calle Ocho and try the Cuban coffee, buy original Cuban cigars at the cigar shops, or try Cuban cuisine at the restaurant “Versailles.” Enjoy your meal, or as the locals say: “Buen Provecho!”
4. South Beach
Going to Miami and not visiting the famous beach is, of course, not possible. South Beach (or “SoBe” as the locals call it), with its clear ocean that you can swim in even during winter, never-ending pearl-white sand, palm trees, people playing volleyball, and the colorful lifeguard towers is lively and packed in all seasons. Hiring umbrellas or sun loungers can be quite expensive, and even in winter the sun is strong enough to burn, so it’s important to go prepared. Finding a parking space is also quite difficult, so it’s advisable to pay a higher sum in advance rather than having to go back constantly to put more money in the meter. Better yet, you could get to the beach by renting bikes; it’s cheap to get around the city with them and is quite comfortable and practical.
5. Ocean Drive
Want to end a great day in Miami with some more fun? Then Ocean Drive is place for you. Miami’s most famous avenue, which runs parallel to South Beach, is a place that is always bright and where the fun never ends. When you have to leave, you’ll wish you could take back the time like in Duke Dumont’s song. If you can take your eyes off of the incredible cars and bikes parked along the avenue, you will see the hotels, restaurants, cafes, and bars along the left side where you can refresh yourself with delicious cocktails served in huge glasses, and dance in one of the Latin dance bars. If you get hungry you can stop by one of the Mexican restaurants on “Espanola Way” and enjoy tapas (small appetizers) with a glass or two of wine. If you want a unique and more lasting memento of your visit to Miami, there are many famous tattoo studios around this area too.
Before you visit Miami:
Take a nostalgic trip by listening to Will Smith’s “Miami,” a popular hit in the 1990s. If you prefer a more contemporary sound, check out British band Foals’ song of the same name, and also the previously mentioned “Ocean Drive” by Duke Dumont.
No doubt you will have seen or at least heard of “Scarface” already, so for something different you could try the two really popular series that are set in Miami: “Dexter” and “Miami Vice.” In “Dexter,” Michael C. Hall’s successful portrayal of a sociopathic killer who lives in Miami offers a very thrilling and enticing watch for the first 5 seasons in particular.
Popular American writer Tom Wolfe’s novel “Back to Blood” (published in 2012) is his fourth novel. The exciting narrative is bound to pique your interest.